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Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

Villa in the Vineyard – Get a variety of products with this design and more!

February 1st, 2016 Comments off

Free “Bee on Yellow Flower” Computer, Tablet and Smartphone Wallpapers and Products [Photography]

January 31st, 2016 Comments off

Instagram Photos – January 2016 – A Review – Douglas E. Welch [Video] [Photography]

January 31st, 2016 Comments off

Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) in my garden – January 2016 [Video] (2:40)

January 25th, 2016 Comments off

Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) in my garden – January 2016

In this episode:

Allen’s Hummingbirds (Selasphorus sasin) frequent our feeder this month.

My friend, Keri from helped us identify the proper species and even gifted us the hummingbird guide linked below. Check out for more great nature, birding and wildlife information

Allen's Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) in my garden - January 2016




Allen’s hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) is a species of hummingbird. It is a small bird, with mature adults reaching only 3 to 3.5 in (76 to 89 mm) in length. The male has a green back and forehead, with rust-colored rufous flanks, rump, and tail. The male’s throat is also an iridescent orange-red. The female and immature Allen’s hummingbirds are similarly colored, but lack the iridescent throat patch, instead having a series of speckles on their throats. Females are mostly green, featuring rufous color only on the tail, which also has white tips. Immature Allen’s hummingbirds are so similar to the female rufous hummingbird, the two are almost indistinguishable in the field. Both species’ breeding seasons and ranges are common factors used to differentiate between the two species in a particular geographical area.

Allen’s hummingbird is common only in the brushy woods, gardens, and meadows of coastal California from Santa Barbara north, and a minuscule portion of lowersouthern Oregon. The nominate race of Allen’s hummingbird, S. s. sasin, is migratory, and winters along the Pacific coast of central Mexico. A second ,S. s. sedentarius, is a permanent resident on the Channel Islands off southern California. This population colonized the Palos Verdes Peninsula of Los Angeles County in the 1960s and has since spread over much of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, south through San Diego County, and east to the western end of Riverside County (inland empire).

The courtship flight of male Allen’s hummingbirds is a frantic back-and-forth flight arc of about 25 ft (7.6 m) similar to the motion of a swinging pendulum, followed by a high-speed dive from about 100 ft (30 m). The male is also highly aggressive and territorial. Hot-tempered despite its diminutive stature, male Allen’s hummingbirds will chase any other males from their territory, as well as any other hummingbird species, and have even been known to attack and rout predatory birds several times larger than themselves, such as kestrels and hawks.

Allen’s hummingbird constructs its nest out of plant fibers, down, and weed stems, coating the nest with lichens to give it structure. The nest is placed above ground on a tree branch or the stalk or stem of a plant. The female lays two white eggs, which she incubates for 15 to 17 days. The young leave the nest about three weeks after hatching. The mother continues to feed the fledglings for several more weeks, then the young are left to fend for themselves.

Like all hummingbirds, Allen’s hummingbird’s high rate of metabolism requires it to feed frequently, about every hour. It drinks nectar from flowers and eats any small insects it finds crawling around the flower blossom, which provide it with needed protein.

The common name commemorates Charles Andrew Allen (1841–1930), American collector and taxidermist. —

Get this hummingbird identification guide from


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New Products: Ridge Line Silhouette by Douglas E. Welch

January 19th, 2016 Comments off
Categories: Art, Fun, Garden, LA, Los Angeles, outdoors, Photos, Products Tags:

Free Sandbags from the City of Los Angeles at Local Fire Stations

January 4th, 2016 Comments off

The rains are coming…or so they say. I was a little worried that I had missed the window to get some sandbags from the local First Station and install them since it did rain here a bit over night. A bright, clear and warm day made a perfect day to get them, though. It looked liked a lot of other people had the same ideas. The lot at LA City Fire Station 88 was hopping with at least 8 other groups there.

As an added bonus for some, this is also the same location to recycle your (once) live Christmas Tree instead of just dropping it on the curb or in an empty lot. There is a large dumpster that will be added to the city mulch piles and re-distributed to citizens. That is the next trip I have planned.

City of Los Angeles Sandbag Pickup Locations

City of Burbank Sandbag Pickup Locations

For those outside of the City, check with your local city web sites for more information

Panorama of Station 88 sandbag pickup

The  City provides both bags and sand, but you need to bring your own shovels and elbow grease. It only took about 15 minutes for the 3 of us to file 6 bags and load them in the car. They are heavy, even when only filled halfway, so you may need to bring some help with you, too. Don’t hurt yourself! I would guesstimate about 50 lbs per sandbag if filled 3/4 full. 

I wasn’t sure how much weight my Honda Element could take, but it handled 6 bags with no problem at all. I could probably have gone with as many as 10 without causing any issues with the suspension. 

…and here they are installed in the back yard. For the most part, our yard and garden doesn’t have any drainage problems, but this one spot — at the end of the patio can fill up during the heaviest rains and once it leaked under the garage door. I am placing these just in case we get the heavy rains that are predicted. They will raise the water level just enough to allow the heaviest rains to run around the garage and down the alley to the street.

I highly recommend keeping a few sandbags on hand just in case they are needed. You don’t want to be running to the station and shoveling in the rain, if you can help it.


City of Los Angeles Sandbag Pickup Locations

City of Burbank Sandbag Pickup Location

Categories: California, Garden, LA, Los Angeles, News, outdoors, Photos Tags:

Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) in the Los Angele River (Silent) [Video]

December 28th, 2015 Comments off

1.5 minutes of footage of Black-necked Stilts (Himantopus mexicanus) in the Los Angeles River taken on December 20, 2015 in Burbank, California.

Black-necked Stilt


From Wikipedia…

The black-necked stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is a locally abundant shorebird of American wetlands and coastlines. It is found from the coastal areas of California through much of the interior western United States and along the Gulf of Mexico as far east as Florida, then south through Central America and the Caribbean to northwest Brazil southwest Peru, east Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. The northernmost populations, particularly those from inland, are migratory, wintering from the extreme south of the United States to southern Mexico, rarely as far south as Costa Rica; on the Baja California peninsula it is only found regularly in winter.[2]

It is often treated as a subspecies of the common or black-winged stilt, using the trinomial name Himantopus himantopus mexicanus.[3] However, the AOU has always considered it a species in its own right, and the scientific name Himantopus mexicanus is often seen. Matters are more complicated though; sometimes all five distinct lineages of the Common Stilt are treated as different species. But the White-necked Stilt from southern South America (H. h. melanurus when only one species is recognized), parapatric and intergrading to some extent with its northern relative where their ranges meet, would warrant inclusion with the Black-necked stilt when this is separated specifically, becoming Himantopus mexicanus melanurus. Similarly, the Hawaiian stilt, H. m. knudseni, is likely to belong to the American species when this is considered separate; while some treat it as another distinct species, the AOU, BirdLife International and the IUCN do not.[4] Thus, in their scheme the black-necked stilt is properly named Himantopus mexicanus mexicanus.[5]

Read the entire article

Places LA: A Few Minutes by the Los Angeles River [Video]

December 22nd, 2015 Comments off

Places LA: Few Minutes by the Los Angeles River


As a part of a friend’s project to walk the entire Los Angeles River, we joined some friends to walk the segment from Warner Bros Studio, past the Disney Studio, through the LA Equestrian Center and ending at Bette Davis Park at Victory Blvd in Burbank.

Find out more about this project on Animalbytes

See some photos from this walk in my Flickr Photostream

Places LA: Few Minutes by the Los Angeles River [Video]

Music: “Carefree” by Kevin MacLeod ( under Creative Commons License

Here is the complete list of birds we saw on the walk.

American Wigeon (Anas americana) 11 three pairs plus individuals
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 6 three pairs
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) 1 on the river among other ducks
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 2 Watched heron catch a 7-8 inch catfish. It also appeared to be a non-native fish species.
Great Egret (Ardea alba) 2 Watched one catch a 6 inch catfish out of the river. It did not appear to be a native fish species.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) 3
American Coot (Fulica americana) 22 group together in middle of the river
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) 70 feeding in large groups
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) 1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) 1
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) 67 feeding together in loose groups along shallow edges of the river
Western Gull (Larus occidentalis) 1
California Gull (Larus californicus) 3
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon)) 33 on wires over Equestrian Center
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 22 sitting in snag tree
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) 2
Allen’s Hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) 1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1 perched on fence overlooking river
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 7 in Bette Davis Park
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) 1
Red-crowned Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis) 8 appeared to be in pairs, sitting in the tops of sycamore trees in Bette Davis Park
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans) 7 each in separate territories
Western Scrub-Jay (Coastal) (Aphelocoma californica [californica Group]) 2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 2
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 2
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 5
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) (Setophaga coronata auduboni) 7 abundant in trees along the river
Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) 3 in shrubs along the river
White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) 6 feeding with lesser goldfinches in non-native shrubs
California Towhee (Melozone crissalis) 3
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 32 feeding in grassy areas and shrubs along the river
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 11 feeding in non-native trees
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 3 at Equestrian Center

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (

Christmas Zen: Sleigh Ride from the BBC [Video Clip]

December 22nd, 2015 Comments off

An amazing idea, and similar to past “Slow TV” programming. You can enjoy a 3 min preview of the experience in the YouTube video below.


In a Slow TV Christmas special, BBC Four rigs a traditional reindeer sleigh with a fixed camera for a magical journey across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Following the path of an ancient postal route, the ride captures the traditional world of the Sami people who are indigenous to northern Scandinavia and for whom reindeer herding remains a way of life.

Filmed in Karasjok, Norway – 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle – this journey takes us through breathtaking scenery not normally glimpsed by anyone other than the Sami. Deliberately unhurried, the rhythmic pace of the reindeer guides us along an epic two-hour trip that takes us over undulating snowy hills, through birch forests, across a frozen lake and past traditional Sami settlements.

Facts about the reindeer, natural history, Sami culture and the Arctic climate are delivered by graphics and archive stills embedded into the passing landscape. With no commentary, music or presenter – just the crunching of snow and the soft tinkle of a reindeer bell – this hypnotic sleigh ride is an enchanting experience to put everyone in the Christmas spirit.

BBC Web Site


Walking the Los Angeles River – Winnetka to Tampa – November 2, 2015

November 2nd, 2015 Comments off

Our friend, Keri from has started a project to walk and document the entire Los Angeles Rover, from its headwaters in Bell Canyon here in the San Fernando Valley to the sea in Long Beach. Today, we joined her for a short segment of the river from Winnetka Ave to Tampa Avenue. Here are a few photos and thoughts from our walk. we plan on joining Keri for additional sections of the river as time allows,including her walk through one of the wisest stretches of the river as it passes through the Sepulveda Basin.

Read Keri’s Post on our walk and see her photos in her blog, Animalbytes

This section of the river has an improved bike and walking path including solar lighting, benches, drinking fountains and botanical landscaping.

LA River Walk - Winnetka to Tampa - November 2, 2015

While Southern California plants are pretty much in dormancy this time of year, especially due to our long running drought, we found a few blooms along our walk.

LA River Walk - Winnetka to Tampa - November 2, 2015

LA River Walk - Winnetka to Tampa - November 2, 2015

LA River Walk - Winnetka to Tampa - November 2, 2015


We also spotted some wildlife along the river, including sandpipers, killdeer, hummingbirds, pigeons and these crows bathing in the small amount of water in the river at the moment.

LA River Walk - Winnetka to Tampa - November 2, 2015

Signage at the Tampa Avenue entrance to the river walkway.

LA River Walk - Winnetka to Tampa - November 2, 2015

LA River Walk - Winnetka to Tampa - November 2, 2015

Watch a slide show of the photos from Walking the Los Angeles River – Winnetka to Tampa – November 2, 2015